A conversation I once had about Courage-based and fear-based leadership led to this musing.
In an earlier life I was in a position of leadership. I think I did it well. My style was to help others become leaders, work with people, and generally be as inclusive as possible. That being said, I followed the guidance of my first superintendent and made decisions in three ways as necessary: decisions I must make alone (and accept responsibility for that decision), decisions made with solicited input, and collaborative decisions. I became quite adept I believe at knowing when each method should be applied, I never shied away from my responsibilities, and whenever possible I used a collaborative process, including those the decision would impact.
I chose to end my administrative career when I came to believe that my leadership was not valued by, or compatible with the board I worked for. It was a heartbreaking period of time. I sought advice from professionals and friends before deciding my integrity was of more importance than my allegiance to an administrative system in which some members chose to not follow policy, rules, and perhaps law. I’d always told my middle school students that they had a choice to use their leadership skills for positive purpose or not. I was their greatest cheerleader for using their “power” in positive ways. And then I found myself in a situation where it seemed that the positive purpose was taken from me.
During this time I had the most interesting conversation with a friend, Ralph Chapman, who had studied and developed a thorough examination of Courage-based vs Fear-based leadership. I wish that he would publish a book on the topic. Our conversation both gave me hope and filled me with deep sadness as I knew I was facing fear-based leadership and was not up for the fight at that moment in time. I realized then, as I am seeing in our country now, that fear-based leadership is downright scary. To me it is loud and relentless in such a nasty way, often hate-filled, and “plays” unfairly, with really no regard for the greater good.
Courage-based leadership is founded in truth, hope, civility, and yes, working for the greater good. (I found this piece on the “greater good” that describes what I mean – Greater Good). Courage-based leadership has a kind of strength that fear-based can never have. It will endure. Strength that comes from truth, hope, civility, and working for the greater good.
We need to find that strength, that courage, and lead together, side by side. We need to join our voices. Together we can be loud, relentless, and in a positive way. Uplifting people, not beating them down. We need to do this now for the children of the world; yours, mine, and everyone’s. We must think beyond ourselves. This isn’t about “the economy, Stupid”. It isn’t about our guns (I don’t need a weapon of war for hunting or protection.) It isn’t about praying in school (I’ve never been stopped from praying anywhere.) This is about our world, civility, our children’s future. Your children, my children, everyone’s children, everywhere.
Always have hope.